As many as 43,921 candidates were registered for the examination at various centres in the city. About 21,790 (49.6%) registered candidates appeared in the first shift for “general studies” paper. The number dropped further to 21,607 (49.2%) in the second shift for “optional subject”.
This was a sharp drop as compared to 15-20% average dropout seen in previous years.
Interaction with candidates revealed that Covid-19 pandemic was the main reason for the high number of absentees. Apart from the fear of catching infection, many could not prepare for the test because of restrictions on coaching classes, group studies, library sessions and mentorship programmes in the past six months.
Atharva Srivastava, who decided to skip the examination, said, “A candidate under unreserved category is allowed five attempts to clear the test, while those under other backward classes can try seven times. Appearing for the test with half preparedness would have wasted an attempt. I decided to opt out because I was not confident about clearing the test.”
“Besides lack of preparedness, there was a risk of catching Covid-19 infection which made many of my batchmates skip the examination,” said Bhawana Singh, who exercised her third attempt on Sunday.
Prof Pawan Kumar Misra, sociology department, Lucknow University, who have been guiding students for civil services for over a decade, said that he found that many students opted out of the race this year not only because of lack of preparedness, but also due to the fear of catching infection while travelling from their home district to Lucknow for the examination.
Agreeing with Prof Mishra, another expert, Prof KC Pandey, LU philosophy department, said that many of his students decided not to appear for the test this year because of stress caused by the pandemic. “These candidates were not feeling confident because they had to stay indoors for a long time and could not could not venture out for debates and discussions on current affairs with their mentors.